Jeff  Carter
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Recently, Columbia University in New York proposed offering a class in Occupy Wall Street. I suppose the class will teach people how to camp out in a city park. Under a continuation of the Obama administration, this might actually become a good life skill.

One facet of the class that I want to point out is its cost. There is an ongoing debate over the cost of a college education and if it is worth it. In general, a typical student completes a degree in four years. Masters students, course of study is compressed, two years. Time and money become a real constraint when selecting classes.

The cost for one year of undergraduate education at Columbia is roughly $53,345 all in. That includes room, board, books, tuition, and fees. Divide that by how many credit hours a normal student takes (32/yr) and you arrive at $1667.03 per credit hour. Masters students pay more per credit hour for their classes.

If you are borrowing money to go to school, the actual cost of the credit hour goes up because it will cost you more when you repay the loan. And if you are on government aid, the American taxpayer gets to pay for it!

Given that the Occupy Wall Street class is a three credit hour class, it costs an undergrad $5001.09 to learn how to camp out in a park and beat a drum while articulating a far left manifesto. I shouldn’t forget to mention that the student ought to consider what a future employer might think when they see that class on a transcript. I suppose if you are going to work for a far left non-government organization it would look favorable. But, I don’t think it will look particularly sharp if you are trying to get a job in a field like consulting.

If students began looking at classes on a cost/benefit basis and extrapolating how the chosen class will help them in the future, we would see less fluff and more real stuff. Maybe it’s not the actual cost of a college education that is the real problem. It’s the classes that are taken while they are there.

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Jeff Carter

Jeffrey Carter is an independent speculator. He has been trading since 1988. His blog site, Points and Figures was named by Minyanville as one of The 20 Most Influential Blogs in Financial Media.